The Truth About PSIA

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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby NoCleverName » Tue Oct 01, 2013 11:52 am

Snow_travel === Snow_don :?:

Inquiring minds want to know! :D
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby Kiwi » Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:50 pm

This is very interesting but let's not forget that Harald has been calling the PSIA and others on this stuff for years and years. If it wasn't for Harald we would all be buggered.
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby snowtravel » Tue Oct 01, 2013 3:15 pm

@ NoCleverName: Thanks for the welcome, and also the "illuminating" comment. Who is Snow_Don?

@ Basil j: Thanks again, glad you like. I've put many, many hours of research and reflection into the PSIA problem...publicly taking a stand isn't easy, for lots of reasons.

@ Kiwi: I'll let Harald speak for himself on this one, but I haven't seen anyone (let alone a current PSIA L3) post the facts and documents you'll see here. That's why I'm doing this. Of course, without Harald I wouldn't even have this forum, so many thanks to him.

Please stay tuned!
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby Kiwi » Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:43 am

Snowtravel, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't presume to speak for Harald. That said this forum is testament to his work which encompasses his views on the PSIA and similiar organisations. Views he has expressed publicly for a longtime.

While I look forward to reading what you have to say, as I am sure everyone else on the forum is, I do wonder if there is a hidden agenda. Aside from making a case against the PSIA for it's reprehensible behavior toward both its instructors and the public, is there another objective for your tell all? It may simply be that this is merely a cathartic exercise, on your part, to expel a few demons, but I doubt that.

Clearly, you have taken considerable time to gather your evidence and marshall your exhibits which leads me to believe that you have an end game in mind. I am all for the public exposure of the corruption and pustulence within PSIA particularly in the upper echelons, but to a certain degree you are talking to the converted here. I for one am a victim, but of a different organisation operating on the PSIA model.

I am also intrigued by the fact you are still a level 3 instructor in the organisation you are doing an exposé on, perhaps you are considering PMTS certification, or dare I say it, undercover journalism.

If you take affront to my cross examination, apologies, but in my defense i can say that there have been some disingenuous posts made on this forum before.
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby NoCleverName » Wed Oct 02, 2013 5:23 am

snowtravel wrote:@ NoCleverName: Thanks for the welcome, and also the "illuminating" comment. Who is Snow_Don?


A misspelled allusion to Edward Snowden who has (in)famously spilled the "inside" beans on his organization.

As an aside to kiwi, I think it's important to fully understand the PSIA in order to either cause it to change or replace it. It's the 800-gorilla who in my mind is standing in the way of the long-term health of our sport. So there is no "hidden agenda": it's obvious something's got to give. If not for the benefit of the clients but for the instructors themselves. I think there's probably some parallels here with the crusty upper echelons of many sporting organizations. Cycling is (hopefully) going through such an upheaval right now. I have no problem with ST being L3 or whatever position he's got in the PSIA; after all, HH was Demo Team at one time. In the end, change can only happen from within, regardless the motivation.
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby Kiwi » Wed Oct 02, 2013 11:21 am

Noclevername, I agree with you and if I can help I will. I just hope there is a real engagement with PSIA or the operators who perpetuate the crime.
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby NoCleverName » Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:15 pm

Oh, and kiwi, sorry about the America's Cup. 8)

It appears that bad luck for NZ gave the Oracle boys enough time to find some more boat speed. It just goes to show that random chance plays as big a part as skill in most sporting events. You guys have real grit and sportsmanship.

BTW, I think it was race 16 or so ... to see 7 tons of boat flying around the windward mark on ONE foil was truly incredible.
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby skijim13 » Fri Oct 04, 2013 4:49 am

I work part time teaching skiing in the northeast; many mountains here are more concerned about giving the customer the first time ski lesson or called the experience. We have gone to station teaching on the hill which teaches three things wedge stops, wedge turn left and right, and some wedge turns and then we turn them loose on the mountain. My customers only really learned one thing the power wedge stop, which is what they use to ski down the hill. Our trainer (PSIA examiner) only wants us to tell the customer to turn their outside leg and never talk about ski edges. We typically hire anyone who comes to the ski off, hand them a jacket and they think they have transformed into a great skier just by wearing the jacket. My ski school director one time saw me reading one my PMTS books and asked if it was a recommended PSIA book, my wife and I both instructors train PMTS in secret. My of my coworkers said that learning PMTS would make them fail their certification tests. They believe good skiing is heavy rotary, no tipping, no counteracting, and no counterbalancing. Pole usage is not important, and one instructor told a customer that poles are overrated a only good for pushing yourself around. My goal is when we retire is to move out West, certify in PMTS and teach skiing part time and college part time.
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby Basil j » Fri Oct 04, 2013 5:10 am

I a played tennis last night with a friend of mine and started talking skiing and he told me that he was a level2 PSIA ski instructor for years. I told him that I was preparing for the upcoming season and studying a new approach to skiing (for me) called PMTS. I explained the approach was different than PSIA because you work on parallel turn from day 1 and avoid wedging altogether. He thought that it was great, but he remembers that the biggest challenge he had as a teacher was dealing with students who had lousy balance and without wedging, there would be no traction or any immediate success in the lesson. The ski experience" had to be a positive one. He thought the screening process was a joke and that pretty much anyone that could link 4 turns together usually ended up being allowed to teach. When I looked into teaching 2 years ago I was led to believe that the process was pretty stringent and that you had to pass an array of on snow off snow exams. I guess that is the talk, but not the walk? I have my concerns about some of the instructors I see on my home ski mountain. Some are solid skiers, other are marginal.
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby geoffda » Fri Oct 04, 2013 8:12 am

skijim13 wrote:My ski school director one time saw me reading one my PMTS books and asked if it was a recommended PSIA book, my wife and I both instructors train PMTS in secret. My of my coworkers said that learning PMTS would make them fail their certification tests.

Ironically, it is just the opposite. Once you learn full control over the ski, doing the rotary stuff is trivial. You'll have to force yourself to do it, if need be, but it isn't hard. It doesn't actually work, but anybody can do it. :mrgreen: Moreover, very few of the traditional instructor types actually understand PMTS well enough to recognize it when they see it. More than one person on this board has been complemented for their "excellent steering" when doing brushed carves.
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby Erik » Fri Oct 04, 2013 11:50 am

WeIch Village made the bold move to go "all in" for PMTS Direct Parallel, and I'm sure we all look forward to hearing about their new successful business model.

I think there is a PMTS information source missing for the general population of people who might be getting ready to take a beginner lesson or plan beginning lessons for their kids. The general public doesn't have any idea that there is a Better Way; the local ski slope and their ski program is where you go for lessons. The piece that I think is missing would be a video showing typical progress of real first-time ever skiers learning PMTS Direct Parallel. The purpose would not be to show detailed how-to-teach, such as the video for the PMTS Instructor's Manual, but would show video clips of skiers after the first half hour, 1 hour, 2 hours, end of first day. It could also show what could be achieved in the first weekend of PMTS learning. By comparison, it could show typical progression of "status quo teaching system" beginning skiers.

It might be a video project for the Welch Village team, HSS, or the Whistler/Blackcomb team. There are some nice words in the Ski Area Management article by Peter Zotalis that is linked on the Welch Mountain web site, but it would be great for the general public to see the video to back up the words in the article. The video could even include some customer interviews on their level of satisfaction in their progress and how much fun they are having skiing.

If nobody has the time to do that , maybe we can sign on the Warren Miller team to do a high-performance beginning skier segment in the next film. Or it might be time to sell "Skiing With The Stars" to the television networks.
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby Hobbit » Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:05 pm

Having comparable videos is a great idea, but for me even stronger statement would be if at the time of buying the skiing lesson they would offer

“Would you like to buy a lesson or a lesson with the book and DVD combo? You can pick up the book / DVD after the lesson …”

Like snowtravel mentioned there is no book, which goes with the ATS lesson – it’s a game of chance. On the opposite, after the PMTS lesson if you browse the book you can always associate the things you did during the lesson with the book material. This would also generate more returns. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what to expect during the second lesson?
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby h.harb » Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:30 pm

Great points Hobbit. Ours is a complete system and we let you in on it, we have nothing to hide. We have exposed our total system to the world. And yet they can't figure it out. How revealing is that?

If PSIA actually told you what they were trying to do in their ATS, they would expose the fact that it didn't work and everyone would see it. It's like playing the hide the pea under three walnut shells, move them around all the time and you still can't find the one with the pea. THey keep it a moving target so it's never their fault. When you don't learn, it's always you fault and your inadequacies, never their fault. The difference between PMTS and ATS, goes much further than skin deep and these are not just technical movement differences, the two are totally philosophically different. PMTS is based in logical, legitimate, provable movements. PSIA's ATS is all over the place and never grounded, so you can't really work on your skiing. Every-time you try it and it doesn't work, you go back and they tell you, you are doing something else wrong. Where as, we give you many different ways to work on each Essential, so you can be successful and achieve your movements, and have success.

Erik, also good points and we are co-opting a video with Welch.
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Outing the Dons

Postby snowtravel » Fri Oct 04, 2013 3:36 pm

Constituency
In the 1998 film "The Mask of Zorro," a subplot has a group of wealthy 19th-century landowners, led by California Governor Rafael Montero, scheming to buy the state. Using slave labor, Don Montero and his cohorts secretly mine gold from Santa Ana's own land, intending to fund the land purchase with it. In the main story line, a swashbuckling new Zorro—with help from the retiring Zorro—discovers the scheme, completes his own character arc, dispatches the bad guys, frees the slaves, gets the girl, and lives happily ever after.

What does this have to do with PSIA?

Well, say you're a ski school employer. Wouldn't it be deliciously evil if you could get your teacher-employees to pay you for your system of behavioral control? Like fictitious wealthy Dons, you could then use your wage-slaves' own money to pay them. And they'd keep paying too, each and every time they pay dues and take additional training or certification in the system you'd dictated, which they must (because you said so).

Better still, what if you did all this using self-dealing legerdemain, so the employees never knew they'd been taken?

Now, that would impress even Don Montero.

PSIA's Snowsports Education Revolution
According to its 1998 10k Annual Report, Vail created "new teaching and learning systems (many of which have historically been developed by the Company, sold to the Professional Ski Instructors of America and subsequently adopted as the standard for the industry)."

Let's review the important terms again, slowly: Vail created "teaching and learning systems," selling "many...to the Professional Ski Instructors of America." These were "subsequently adopted as the standard for the industry."

Vail said the same thing in its 1996 and 1997 annual reports, with only a subtle change in verbiage. Speaking about the "teaching and learning systems" it developed, Vail said "many" had "historically been purchased from the Company by the Professional Ski Instructors of America."

Crucially, Vail speaks not of one sale or purchase, but "many." It's not about a peripheral matter, but the "standard for the industry." They've been doing it not just recently but "historically."

These are SEC filings, regarded as the world's benchmark in corporate disclosure: painstakingly fact-checked, vetted by top attorneys, and enforced (in the breach) through stiff prison sentences. Against PSIA's flowery myth about the origins of its "revolutionary" system, Vail's perfunctory disclosure stands as a far more credible thesis. (Later I'll have more about PSIA's myth-making.)

Annual reports disclose only what they must, so fiscally this must have mattered to Vail, or the company wouldn't have even mentioned it. You can bet it's the truth: Vail did. And if it mattered at all to a publicly-traded company, then it mattered lots more to tiny, nonprofit PSIA.

A Revolving Door, Sans Door
When I started teaching in 1984, Horst Abraham was Vail's "technical director" (whatever that means) and had just written the PSIA's incomprehensible book, "Skiing Right." Around the same time, Vail ski school director Chris Ryman was likewise a long-time PSIA operative (demo team, etc.) before taking his place as a Vail executive. A decade later, about the time of Vail's 1996 10k, the story was the same for demo-God and Vail exec Mike Porter and a host of others.

The PSIA-industry nexus is actually a long-standing tradition, right from the gitgo. According to PSIA, in 1961 seven "instructors" founded the organization: Bill Lash, Jimmy Johnston, Paul Valar, Doug Pfeiffer, Don Rhinehart, Max Dercum, and Curt Chase. In another even more improbable Hollywood allusion, PSIA calls them, "The Magnificent Seven." (No, really.)

In truth, they weren't merely instructors, but rather ski school directors. It couldn't have been otherwise, since according to founder Curt Chase the occasion that created PSIA was "just another meeting of the National Ski Associations's Ski School Directors committee."

The point is, PSIA leaders are resort managers and execs, and vice versa. They always have been. Hence when industry does a deal with PSIA—say, for a nice book-publication contract or maybe the purchase of "systems" mandatory for every member—their agents are just bargaining with themselves. You can guess who benefits here. (Hint: it's neither the snowsports public, nor their starving teachers.)

As Don Montero asked, "Is it becoming clearer to you?"

The Real Deal, Solipsism Style
PSIA is forward-minded and many years ago reported for posterity one Vail-PSIA transaction. My undercover informer Snow_Don was personally there—NoCleverName, how'd you guess?—and provided me with an official transcript stolen from deep inside PSIA archives.

Says Snow_Don about the knockdown, drag-out fights that self-dealing negotiations foment: "You could feel the tension that morning. I knew that "Bob" [not his real name] was serious about securing the best contract terms he could for PSIA's members because he arrived in his Demo Team hat. I mean, he was armed for bear."

Here's the verbatim transcript, never before published:

Bob: We're on the record with Bob, VP of Vail Operations. I'm Bob, Education VP representing PSIA. We have authority to negotiate the purchase and sale of Vail's new teaching and learning system, correct Bob?

(Whereupon, Bob removed his hat and donned a Vail Resorts, Inc. logo hat.)

Bob: (Now wearing Vail hat) Yes, all the papers have been drafted and I'm ready to execute. When we last visited this deal, your concerns were cost, deliverables, and disclosure.

Bob: (Switching to his PSIA hat) That's right.

[From here on, the shorthand reporter inexplicably fails to record which hat Bob is wearing. -Ed.]

Bob: I've spoken to the Vail people, and they've authorized a final counter.

(Whereupon, Bob wrote on a piece of paper and handed it to himself.)

Bob: That's no change from your last number Bob. Our membership won't tolerate...

Bob: ...I don't think…

Bob: ...we'll have to increase membership dues, and there's already push-back from the rank and file. The deliverables now include a whole new Customer Service Model that will cost our members more time and money, while diminishing their principal teaching mission. They'll have to pay out-of-pocket for training that was once compensated as company orientation. Plus, there's a whole new set of other expensive manuals with unfamiliar jargon. Almost all PSIA members already have second and third jobs, so this means a substantial loss of income as well as higher costs.

Bob: We've been through all of this before, Bob. Vail's approved the deal, and PSIA members will take what we give them. It's always this way.

Bob: I'm sorry Bob, the new deliverables just don't justify the price.

Bob: Says who?

Bob: There's some guy in Utah complaining. A Level III. He's been writing letters.

Bob: What kind of letters? All the new stuff is still secret.

Bob: You know, the usual nattering. Thinks our content should be be written in complete sentences and professionally edited. Based on facts, experience and maybe even science. Logically organized. Before adoption, he wants it published to the membership for review and comment. He's basically saying that we shouldn't just pull it out of our asses. Worries me.

Bob: Bob, I'll tell you what's going to happen here. With real wages falling, staffing levels rising and hours getting cut, this L3 guy is just another short-timer. Let the PSIA telegraph work and he'll never make DCL [Division Clinic Leader]. I've seen it dozens of times; he'll be gone in a year or two.

Bob: Are we disclosing? What if he finds out about the deal?

Bob: He won't. Since it's material, Vail has to disclose in its annual report, at least for a couple of years. But we'll just bury it in the text. No one needs to know the numbers. Heck, no one in ski school ever reads the 10k anyway. PSIA doesn't need to say anything at all. We'll just print up the new books without attribution and have them drop-shipped to regional divisions like we always do. What are they gonna say: No?

Bob: You drive a hard bargain Bob. I mean, you know so much about our organization, its structure and people and economics. I feel like you can see right through me. This job is so stressful, I, I...

Bob: ...yes, Bob...

Bob: ...I need a promotion.

Bob: I understand Bob. I really do.

Just a Bad Movie
The provenance of PSIA's systems isn't the fairy tale we've been told. The public record lays it bare: they're the product of self-dealing among PSIA, its fiduciaries, and one of the largest corporate players in the business. Using our dues and fees, and without our knowledge, PSIA bought Vail's systems for undisclosed sums. Historically they've done so many times.

These systems are neither organic nor "student centered." Rather, they're corporate-created and hence corporate-centered. When we train in these systems, and train our students in them, we're all serving a corporate agenda.

That's the true "snowsports instruction revolution."

Take heart, PSIA members: if you suck it up and work for Vail Resorts, Inc.—as increasingly you must if you want to work at all—you can earn your money back. All of which leaves just one more question:

Where the hell is Zorro?

Best wishes,

Joseph
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby h.harb » Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:19 pm

Bottom line here is no matter how cool you think you are as an Aspen ski instructor or a Mammoth instructor or a Squaw Valley instructor, you are working for Vail. The ski school director now at Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley was previously the Vail Ski School director. See a trend here? I would not be surprised if Vail tried to buy Squaw. They want California. If you are paying dues to PSIA you are actually working for Vail.

PSIA is not about ski instruction, it's just one of the means for Vail to leverage it's position in an attempt for total domination of the ski industry.
They want every dollar you spend to and from and at the ski resort. This is an ambitious plan. They own Vans and transportation systems, ski shops rental shops on the way to the resorts.
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